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Should buyers show ‘proof of funds’ to be allowed to view a home?

A traditional problem for agents has been ‘tyre kickers’ who come to view a home out of curiosity with little or no intention of making an offer - or perhaps having no financial ability to afford the property anyway.

Now one of the high end agencies, Savills, has come up with a way of reducing the overhead of catering for people who view but would never buy. 

Savills in the Republic of Ireland has asked prospective buyers interested in one particular new-build scheme to show detailed financial information and proof of their ability to buy, before they are even allowed to view the development.

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Media in the Republic have reported that a financial questionnaire has been sent to prospective purchasers of homes on a scheme in Lucan, County Dublin.

It asks whether they’re first-time buyers, investors or existing owners, and wants “evidence of all savings that will be used in the purchase” or “evidence of gifts from family members, if applicable.”

They are also required to provide “full proof of funds” in order to view the houses, which range in price from €395,000 for a mid-terrace to €565,000 for a detached house.

If it’s a cash purchase, Savills requests “a bank statement or letter from your solicitor confirming funds are available” and, at the very least, a mortgage approval in principle document, which includes the amount the bank is prepared to lend.

“Please note that if submitting letters from your mortgage broker, the loan amount must be visible. We cannot accept a redacted Approval in Principle” the email tells those who expressed an interest in viewing.

Estate Agent Today has been told by Savills in the UK that its staff in Ireland were following Covid-related advice from the Republic's Property Services Regulatory Authority. "This is not policy over here" says a spokeswoman.

Last week EAT reported on an incident in London when a notice appeared on a property which said viewings were available for £5 cash per person.

Although many of the comments left below the story queried whether £5 was a sensible sum, and whether it should be payable in cash, at least some of the agents felt a barrier of some kind to viewings was actually a good thing.

Kristjan Byfield of Base Property Specialists in London wrote: “Whilst we have never considered charging for viewings we have often considered taking card details and charging a cancellation fee if they cancel less than four hours prior or are a 'no show’ - especially for weekend viewings. Never implemented but always thought this would be a great way to establish who is really serious about a property. Charging to view though- that's not good.”

Another agent leaving a comment, James Phillips, wrote: “Time is money, there are seriously serial viewers out there who just want to rubberneck a property just for the sake of it, they are intrigued or just plain nosey. I can't see anything wrong with charging a late cancellation, perhaps even popping the said £5 charge into a local charity.”

  • Patrick  Rodgers

    Yes I have to prove I have the money to buy a house what's the difference

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    Surely qualifying the buyer is part of any estate agents job. Then it is their client, along with themselves who can decide who they will allow to view their property. Many sellers ask for just "proceedable buyers" to be shown round. This is not an entertainment industry.

    Mike Riley

    If only all buyers told the truth about their position.

     
  • Daniel Hamilton-Charlton

    Absolutely agree that people viewing should be asked to prove they have the funds. There are not enough hours in the day to waste on property tourists.
    This is another headache you can outsource and it will show an absolute commitment from the would-be buyer. 'Proof of funds', 'source of funds' and 'account verification' reports are all available direct to clients on our site within the shop in our 'Home Movers' selection.
    To date these are mostly purchased by clients sent by conveyancers so it will be nice to see more agents getting involved.

  • Tony Bowden

    It’s an interesting concept, though if there are those “serial viewers” then surely they’re known to agents and can be refused viewings, I was doing exactly that 20 years ago.

    Likewise proof of funds was always and should be something that is requested but at offer stage. I appreciate time is money but there is also the need to replenish your housing stock as an agent and those who are trying to make a decision on selling may be put off by this initial proof of funds request.

    I think a cancellation fee is acceptable and would support such a thing, plenty of other industries do it so why not the property sector.

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    All good points

     
  • Matthew Gardiner Legge

    Today's tyre kicker could be tomorrow's big investor. We keep banging on about the importance of goodwill and trust in the property iundustry. First time buyers not quite ready to buy being turned away by agents and developers isn't the best way to nurture enthusiasm to a brand.

  • Richard Copus

    The whole industry is in a state of flux at the moment. Now is the time to try out new ideas and test the water. However, we mustn't forget that probably the only good thing about the English and Welsh method of private treaty sale is that everything is open, free and fluid. The time-waster who suddenly sees something great unexpectedly soon gets their finances together. Start charging £5 for viewings and going into people's private affairs before they've even looked at a house is risky business. On the same basis we ought to charge sellers £100 or so upfront to put their houses on the market because so many of them change their minds and withdraw their homes from sale. It could be the best way to kill the market when things start to go wrong.

  • Matthew Payne

    It would remove the creativity and skill from properly qualifying apps and vendors and kill local landlord networking and chain building stone dead, yet more agency sales craft assigned to the scrap heap. (I assume agents that support the policy of shunning non proceedable buyers make an unofficial exception to their rule for local VIPs and those whose houses they have valued, or do they really cut off their own noses and apply it to everyone?)

    Yes, there are tyre kickers but there always have been. Apply any form of mandatory fixed filter including a cancellation charge certainly on Resi would remove spontaneity and entrepreneurialism from the marketplace for both agents and homemovers and deny agents opportunities to meet and talk to many local people in their towns. If that comes at the cost of occasionally getting it wrong and spending an hour with a time waster, then a price worth paying.

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    There are a couple of points here.

    1. There is zero way of 'proving' funds. proof of cash doesn't mean they will use that to purchase the property, a MIP,DIP isn't worth the paper it's written on and if someone is selling and their deposit is in the house, there's no way of proving that either.

    2. If you schedule appointments correctly, you can 'use' these 'tyre kickers' . Always book viewings one after the other, so that the interested potential buyer doesn't know that the next person viewing is a time waster .

    The problem is seismic within the industry and a complete over hall of the way things are done is needed. From an agent not charging until the sale has completed (worse contract in business!) to the completely ridiculous time it tales to complete a sale using the archaic legal system

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    Good luck trying to recover the unpaid £5 when people don't pay a cancellation fee.

  • Daniel Hamilton-Charlton

    Ask people to visit our 'Order your ID' page because on there are a range of other useful products such as:
    'Source of Funds'
    'Proof of Funds'
    'Account Verification'

    All available for the clients to pay for direct, complete through our open banking solutions and delivered to your inbox. Does is get get any easier?
    We can even build these in to bespoke 'Get Legally Prepared' pages for your business for free.

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